MASTER SHEN-LONG | Salvation
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Salvation

Salvation

(Excerpt from the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, expounded by Master Shen-Long, Chapter 1 Cultivation Cause, pg. 70)

 

Master Shen-Long, To Ferry Over 渡, 1980, Ink on poster paper, 110cm x 80cm. Copyright Master Shen-Long.

Master Shen-Long, To Ferry Over 渡, 1980, Ink on poster paper, 110cm x 80cm. Copyright Master Shen-Long.

[Sutra Text] The Fifth Patriarch escorted him [Hui-Neng] to the Jiu-Jiang Courier Station and ordered him to board a boat. The Fifth Patriarch took up the oars and rowed.

Hui-Neng said: “Please, Great Master, sit down. It is fitting that your disciple takes the oars.”

The Fifth Patriarch said: “Of course it is I that ferries you over, therefore I paddle the boat.”        

Hui-Neng said: “When I was deluded, Master, you took me across; but when I am enlightened, I take myself across. Although the term of “taking across” is the same in each case, it functions differently. I was born in the frontier regions and while my pronunciation is not proper, I have received the Dharma transmission from the Master. Today I have attained enlightenment, it is in-line with my “self-nature is pure and is without defilement, and to save all living beings with an inherently pure and undefiled self-nature.”

The Patriarch replied: “So it is, completely correct. Hereafter, you will transmit the Buddha Dharma universally. Three years after you leave, I will leave this world. So please take good care of yourself and go South as fast as possible. The Buddha teaching is hard to explain it all in just a few words, the Buddha Dharma is hard to hear, encounter, know and understand.”

Explained by Master Shen-Long:

Jiu-Jiang Courier Station is an assembly place of travelers coming and going in Jiu-Jiang City (Jiang-Xi Province). Arriving to the estuary and getting on the boat, the Fifth Patriarch was so compassionate and wanted to help the Sixth Patriarch to row the boat. Hui-Neng asked the venerable monk to sit. Hui-Neng said: “Please, Great Master, sit down. It is fitting that your disciple takes the oars.” The Fifth Patriarch said: “Of course it is I that ferries you over, therefore I paddle the boat.” Hui-Neng said: “When I was deluded, Master you took me across; but when I am enlightened, I take myself across. Although the term “taking across” is the same in each case, it functions differently.” Here, every movement demonstrates again and again that all are under the state of non-birth and non-extinction of all phenomena.

The Fifth Patriarch said: “Of course I ferry you over, therefore I paddle the boat.” Hui-Neng said: “When I was deluded, Master you took me across; but when I am enlightened, I take myself across. It is precisely like his prior statement: “People from the south region or north region, there are no differences in Buddha-nature where they are from.” They only function differently.

Hui-Neng was born in the frontier regions, he was born in the south barbarian region. While my pronunciation is not proper, this shows that he was born with low social status. I have received the teaching and enlightenment from the infinite merciful and infinite compassionate Patriarch, Today I have attained enlightenment, all things are done and all deeds have already been achieved. It is in-line with my self-nature is pure and is without defilement, to save all living beings with inherently pure and undefiled self-nature. This sentence is extremely important. Self-nature is purified of defiling illusion, to save all living beings with inherently pure and undefiled self-nature. The Fifth Patriarch said: “So it is, completely correct. Hereafter you will transmit the Buddha Dharma universally to liberate all living beings and to pass on the Buddha teaching to enlighten numerous beings. After you are gone from here for three years, I will then pass away. This is goodbye, please take good care of yourself. Go south. “

Buddha teaching is hard to explain it all in just a few words, Buddha Dharma is hard to hear, encounter, know and understand. This is difficult to embody all in a single sentence.

This is the way of the ancient people, speaking honestly between these two individuals, one is the master and the other is his disciple; eventually the disciple will also become a master.

From these two individual’s conversation during their time together, you can tell that all beings completely fit Zen Buddhism. Why? The characteristics of ancient people were very simple, they (1) were not sloppy, (2) had wisdom, and (3) were willing to let go of all universal desires of fame, benefit, food, excessive lust attachments, and sleep. The human body is hard to obtain but we already have it now. This is very important.

To obtain a human body is for us to become enlightened here, to become Buddha and to become the master of oneself here. Therefore, the Buddha Dharma is hard to hear, encounter, know and understand. The Buddha teaching is hard to explain it all in just a few words, which means it cannot be summed up in a few words.

 

摘錄神龍道人講六祖壇經之第一品: 行由

[經文] 祖相送直至九江驛,祖令上船,五祖把櫓自搖,弟子和搖櫓。

祖云:「合是吾渡汝。」

惠能云:「迷時師度,悟了自度;度名雖一,用處不同。惠能生在邊方,語音不正,蒙師傳法!今已得悟,只合自性自度。」

祖云:「如是,如是。以後佛法,由汝大行矣。汝去三年, 吾方逝世。汝今好去,努力向南。不宜速說,佛法難起。

「祖相送直至九江驛」,驛是驛站,過往九江旅客匯集的地方。到了江口上船,五祖多慈悲,要幫他搖船,惠能請和尚坐。「弟子和搖櫓」;和尚請坐,我來搖櫓(槳)。祖云:「合是吾渡汝。」惠能云:「迷時師度,悟了自度;度名雖一,用處不同。」這裡再再顯示,一舉一動皆在「不生不滅」。五祖說: 當然是我度你, 我來搖船。惠能說: 迷的時候是你來度我, 悟了我自己度自己。就像人有南北, 佛性無南北;用處不同。這是智慧。

「惠能生在邊方」,生在南蠻。「語音不正」,表示出生低微。受到祖師大慈大悲的度化。今天已是諸事己辦, 所作已了。

「只合自性自度。」這句話太重要了,自性是清淨無染,自度是度清淨無染之眾生,這叫自性自度。五祖說: 「完全正確, 就是這樣」。以後佛法由你開始廣度眾生,傳法度眾。你去三年以後, 我才會圓寂。「汝今好去」,這是珍重道別。往南方走。

「不宜速說,佛法難起。」這是一言難盡。這是古人, 說老實話從兩個人, 一個是老師, 一個是徒弟;最後徒弟也變成老師了。從兩個人相處對話中,你可看出來我們中國人是完主適合禪宗。為什麼?中國人很簡單, 第一不拖泥帶水,第二有智慧,第三對於宇宙一切名利食色睡都放得下。人身難得, 皆已得; 這很重要。得人身的目的是在這兒覺悟的, 是到這裡來成佛做主的。所以「佛法難起」, 起是難聞, 難見, 難知, 難解。「不宜速說」是無從說起, 意思是不是三言兩語把佛法講清楚的。

 

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